NYFW Is The Solution to NYFW: Men’s Calendar Problem
Every season there seems to be some pre-fashion week shake ups that give the illusion that fashion week will be different. For the Spring 2020 season, it was designer Tom Ford’s appointment to succeed Diane Von Furstenberg as chairman for The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). In this role Ford made a bold decision shorting New York Fashion Week to 5 days, tighten up the schedule to provide a more focused guide for editor’s and buyers and to attract a stronger international press/media presence at the shows. This edited schedule included 81 shows and in a Business of Fashion article they reported, “according to Kolb, the CFDA will prioritise talent, creativity and demonstrating international interest when organising the calendar.”
A tighter official schedule doesn’t make a week of standing in lines for 4+ shows a day, on an empty stomach and aching feet less grueling. This work isn’t for the faint of heart and in the midst of the pain there’s still trends to spots and takeaways to formulate. What was special about Spring 2020 shows? The menswear!
September is usually focused on women’s ready-to-wear. The menswear designers have separate designated fashion week in January and July to be more inline with the menswear fashion weeks in London, Milan and Paris and Pitti Uomo trade-show in Florence. Unfortunately, since its debut in 2015, NYFW: Men’s hasn’t been en vogue. Top-tier New York based menswear designers never abandoned Milan or Paris so the big brand American names have consistency remained collectively absent from the show schedule, this past men’s week in the city, only around 20 designers showed. This official schedule for the September shows had something the July men’s festivities lacked, menswear buzz. Jermey Scott, Helmut Lang, Brandon Maxwell, Prabal Gurung, Tibi, Coach 1941, Pyer Moss, Studio 189 and Tom Ford are a handful of key designers who showed menswear. Off the schedule, more menswear favorites, from Gypsy Sport to Carlos Campos also showed their Spring 2020 offerings and from the designer listed above, the menswear was good.
At Tibi, Amy Smilovic has continued this streak to creating easy clothes with smart detailing that on, makes the wearer look special. This was her second outing with the Tibi menswear she formally introduced for the current season (Fall 2019) and with the men’s line Smilovic hasn’t missed a beat with having that same knack for no fussy clothes that are worth fussing about like the relaxed fit suiting that came in both bold plaid and subtle pinstripes paired with cable knitted slide sandals. Brandon Maxwell showcased menswear for the first time. The Project Runway judge sent the fellas down the runways in colorful suits and classic mens separates from his take on a luxe sweatsuit and denim to black tie suiting. Gypsy Sport DIY approach to clothes set the runway ablaze (literally on a polo and jean set) but also with their appliquéd spin on island life wear. With the increasing number of designers adding menswear to their business, more designers that the CFDA deems a priority are sending at minimum 8+ looks of menswear down the runway. Dates for men’s week in the big apple are set for February 4th to the 6th, with the womenswear collections to start showing the following day. The joining of the schedule put NYFW back at a 8 day stretch for some fashion insiders, but the marriage offers an extended menswear lineup that has the potential to be a menswear schedule’s dream. A solid combination of emerging menswear talent and strong designer diversity anchored by the big names that would give the NYFW: Men’s schedule the support it needs.
To be fair New York Fashion Week has had its struggles. My first season was September 2012, when fashion week had big energy. We had a real central location (Lincoln Center), drinks poured, snacks were free, seats at the shows had backs and most importantly amongst the malee was a since of community. The following season Suzy Mended called fashion month a “circus,” fashion week being dead think pieces followed, flooded the internet and the New York shows ended up being the hardest hit in terms of energy being sucked out of our event while London, Milan and Paris kept their allure.
However, new vibes are brewing NYFW. Kerby Jean-Ramos of Pyer Moss, Becca McCharen-Tran of Chromat were the new kids on the scene 7-8 years ago; now their shows, rich in beautiful clothes on the runways and an outpouring of real love and REPRESENTATION in the room, are the hot tickets shows for the week. New York continues to (slowly) improve and lead in terms of championing diversity backstage, on the runway and among show goers. And there’s a potential for a solid menswear schedule come February 2020. The cards are being dealt, its up to the powers that be to play a strong hand next season.